The Thrill of Love

by Jeremy "NR" Ebert: I loved watching Arturo Gatti fight. I appreciate watching Bernard Hopkins fight.

I should love Hop the same way, but I don't - not because I can't recognize the brilliance of B-Hop... but because I can. It's like a history book, so literal and pronounced that it's hard to connect with on an emotional level. And make no mistake, I love boxing on an emotional level. Bernard Hopkins makes me think when I watch him fight. I have to notice how he works the ring and how he slips punches and how he makes the art of fighting through angles seem so simple. It's too academic and clean and clinical..

On the other hand, Arturo Gatti - while possessive of solid boxing skills - was the epitome of what makes a true fighter a fighter. Will... determination... heart... excess... blood. The fact that Arturo Gatti never was and never could be comparable to Bernard Hopkins on paper is irrelevant. When I watched "Thunder" fight, I was moved emotionally. He did that to me and millions of other boxing fans. No matter how many times you watch or re-watch a Bernard Hopkins fight, studying his mind through his actions, you simply can't relate to what you are seeing, not like you could with Gatti.

There is a sense to fighters like Gatti, guys who lack the skill to be beyond the simple drudgery of "hit and be hit", that we could relate to him on a personal level. How a boxer does his work is indicative of his character and mentality. In the ninth round of his first fight with Micky Ward, it started off with one of many patented Ward left hooks to the body. When a boxer goes down from a body shot, it's not a fluke. Nobody needed to ask Gatti in that moment if he was in excruciating pain, that was plainly etched on his face. It also didn't need to be asked of him if he would rise up and continue on. Obviously he would, because he always would. When his corner told him they were stopping the one sided beating that Floyd Mayweather Jr. was laying on him, his response was typical for him, "One more round".

There was always one more round for Arturo Gatti - he desired it, demanded it and usually got it. Referee's were hesitant to stop his fights, even when they should have, because that would be denying him his greatest attribute - his fighting heart.

Now, I have no doubts that Bernard Hopkins in similar moments is made of the same stuff that Arturo Gatti was. None. But Hopkins never was in those situations, not the way he fought; but because Gatti was, we got to see his heart on full display. By seeing it, we felt it within our own selves. A talent like Bernard Hopkins comes along rarely and the same goes for Arturo Gatti, but there's more of the Thunder in all of us than there is the Executioner - deep down, we know that so well that we love Gatti for it.

It's always a treat to watch Bernard Hopkins fight... and it was ALWAYS an honor to watch Arturo Gatti.

To read more by Jeremy "NR" Ebert please visit The Mushroom Mag:

Article posted on 17.07.2009

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